September 3, 2006

ATTAC Report This Week

Cuba Re-invades Central America

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Fourteen years after peace was promised in the revolution-torn country of El Salvador, war may be returning. This time, the nation may finally be forced to choose victory.

Hello. I’m your host, Boruch Ellison, and this is “ATTAC Report This Week” for September 3rd, 2006.

It was one of the longest, bloodiest wars in Central American history. From 1980 until 1992, armed revolutionaries of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, or FMLN, conducted an all-out campaign of guerrilla warfare throughout the tiny nation of El Salvador.

In the countryside, the terrorists captured vast swaths of territory, enforcing a reign of intimidation and destruction over numerous towns and villages. They planted land mines in areas filled with peasants, wounding and crippling for life thousands of the nation’s poorest residents, many of them young children who lost their legs, arms, or eyesight. The FMLN’s death squads also murdered thousands to send a message of terror to the population.

In the cities, the FMLN conducted assassinations, kidnappings, bombings, and gun battles against civilians, government officials, police, and visiting tourists alike. They simultaneously waged a war of economic sabotage, destroying electrical power stations and other targets in a campaign designed to push an already poor nation over the edge into total collapse.

The terrorists didn’t hide their goals. Founded as an umbrella organization of five earlier terrorist groups led by the Communist Party of El Salvador, the FMLN carried out the revolution in the name of Marx and Lenin and openly aimed to bring the country under a Communist regime. The Communist rulers of Cuba and Nicaragua helped organize the FMLN, directly supervised it, and provided it a massive, ongoing flow of Soviet guns, explosives, and ammunition. FMLN members were sent to Cuba, East Germany, Bulgaria, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam for training. The FMLN armed struggle was less a rebellion than a foreign invasion using local Communists.

In the twelve years of war, tens of thousands of Salvadorans were killed. But as the terrorists realized that their struggle was losing steam and public opinion was moving steadily toward the anti-Communist right, the FMLN pulled back to consolidate its gains. The result was a peace agreement in 1992, allowing the FMLN to maintain its grip on rural areas and to receive amnesty from prosecution — while functioning as a legally accepted political party. FMLN terrorists were incorporated into El Salvador’s military and police forces, and the United States provided millions of dollars each year to the group.

Everything depended entirely on the FMLN’s promise to give up its guns and never return to war. But right from the treaty’s beginning, the revolutionaries were caught repeatedly violating every major provision. Vast stores of weapons were discovered in secret locations, while the terrorists continued receiving more weapons through Cuba and Nicaragua. Members of the FMLN launched organized crime and began dominating the drug trade and armed robbery. Their front groups, including labor unions and student organizations, conducted riots against police and repeatedly seized control of the main Catholic cathedral in the nation’s capital.

In recent times, those criminal actions have taken an ominous direction. Occupations of the National Cathedral have increased, now coordinated with city-wide strikes and riots that involve blockading streets, burning buses and phone booths, and attacking police and civilians with rocks. Behind the attacks are top members of the FMLN, operating as part of the group’s deadly Mara Salvatrucha gang or in new armed groups such as the Limon Brigade. It is now widely acknowledged that FMLN groups have large depots of weapons, and they’re increasingly willing to use them.

Less than two months ago, members of the FMLN’s Limon Brigade were witnessed assassinating two police officers with automatic weapons during an FMLN-organized protest in El Salvador’s capital. The FMLN and its sympathizers are also hinting at plans to return to all-out guerrilla warfare.

But will Salvadorans this time realize that total victory, and not a peace treaty, is the only way to peace?

Thank you for listening. From all of us at ATTAC Report, good-bye.

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